What was once the up-and-coming expat haven of Nosara, Costa Rica, has blossomed into one of Costa Rica’s most established expat communities that continues to be ranked near the top of the list of most desirable destinations in the Latin Tropics.
There are few places on earth that can boast of having a dedication to outdoor activities, such as surfing, blended with a lifestyle focused on sustainability as well as the environment, and other beneficial pursuits, such as yoga and meditation. Add in the Costa Rican vibe of “pura vida” (literally “pure life”), and the result is a magnetic draw for retirees, young families looking for a slower pace of life, and investors seeking a great return on investment.
Expats Still Like Nosara for Its Real Estate Potential
One of the reasons that expats still like Nosara is the variety of options that exist in the real estate market. While there are an increasing number of upscale owners seeking to build or buy luxury homes, the Nosara Civic Association continues to make a concerted effort to ensure that the natural beauty and the environment are not overwhelmed with development.
At the other end of the economic spectrum, there are many affordable and rustic properties in and around the village of Nosara itself. Importantly, there are also a number of lots that can be reasonably purchased so that expats can build their own tropical escape.
Looking at a list of properties in the area can help potential expats explore the potential that exists. Whether you are seeking your tropical retreat, or considering a longer term investment option, it can be found in Nosara.
Nosara Is Poised for the Future
As the brainchild of American developer Alan Hutchinson Nosara was originally planned to be a resort community. While the “American Project” never materialized, the foreigners who discovered the beauty and potential of the region dedicated themselves to aggressively reforesting the former cattle ranch into one of the premier “Green Zones” that exist throughout Costa Rica.
The Nosara Civic Association zealously protects the roughly 170 acres of Green Zone land that is distributed throughout the former project site. Any future development in the Nosara area will be part of a planned growth model to maintain the balance between humans and nature. This measured approach has become a model for other projects throughout Costa Rica and the Latin Tropics.
Activities for the Body and Soul
One of the premier reasons that expats still like Nosara is the unique mix of outdoor activities with more spiritual aspects such as yoga, meditation, and alternative health. Being able to immerse oneself in such a wide variety of pursuits, in a stunning and diverse ecological location, continues to provide an irresistible draw for those who are seeking to find a place outside the ordinary.
Surfing and More
As a top-rated surfing destination, Nosara’s beaches and natural surf breaks have drawn enthusiasts who seek the “endless summer” for decades. The near-perfect year-round climate makes enjoying the beach, hiking, swimming, horseback riding, and other outdoor pursuits an easy and enjoyable task.
Yoga, Meditation and Alternative Health
As a counterpoint to the surf culture, Nosara has also become known, particularly in the last decade, as a destination for yoga and yoga retreats, meditation camps, and alternative medicine and health. Combining a holistic lifestyle with high-energy sports may seem like a cultural contradiction but these pursuits are actually the perfect complement to one another. In Nosara the two approaches blend perfectly.
Expats Still Like Nosara for Its Family-friendliness
For younger expat families, finding a place where children can thrive can often be a difficult challenge. Nosara, Costa Rica has become one of those rare destinations that can truly be said to be welcoming to families of all types.
The creation of two bilingual private schools, as well as the great variety of kid-friendly activities like sports and nature-focused initiatives, have contributed to the growth in the number of expat families considering a move to Nosara. Even more important is the relaxed pace of living that allows for more interaction between parents and children, something that is often lacking in the 24/7/365 hustle of major metropolitan areas.
A Healthier Way to Live
Dan Buettner’s recent book, “Blue Zones,” identified the Nicoya Peninsula as one of the places around the globe whose residents seemed to live longer, healthier lives. Nosara’s location, in the middle of the peninsula, has become a focal point for many expat families who want to add longevity to their lives and the lives of their children. Having a focus on a sustainable lifestyle continues to be one of the major considerations for those looking for a better quality of life.
The Best Way to Discover Why Expats Still Like Nosara Is to Go There
Nosara promises to be an important expat destination both now and moving forward. But what makes Nosara desirable differs from person to person. So don’t just take my word for it. The best way to see if Nosara is a fit for you and your family is to visit and experience both the ambience and the activities that await you there.
If you’re a new or potential expat, you probably have a lot of questions about the tax implications of your current living and income situation. You may also know that your predicament has been made just that much more complicated by some recent IRS initiatives that affect your reporting requirements.
Understanding your tax burden while you’re living abroad does create an additional perplexing step come tax season. But don’t let it scare you. Just like all the other hurdles you have to overcome when you break free and thrive in the Latin Tropics, this one is manageable.
But, wait, before I proceed…here’s a disclaimer. I’m a fellow expat who has done some research and has personal experience with this topic. I am not, however, an authority on any financial or legal matters. It’s always a good idea to hire an accountant with experience in assisting U.S. citizens living abroad if you have questions about what’s required.
The Long Arm of the Tax Man
Being in the know about income reporting requirements has become even more important with the implementation of two major IRS mandates: FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) and FBAR (Foreign Bank Account Report). Although passed by Congress in 2010, these two reporting requirements did not go into effect until July 1, 2014, and are the source of both confusion and concern for expats and the foreign financial institutions that they may be dealing with.
While the stated intent of these mandates was to identify and limit tax evaders who sought to conceal assets outside of the country, their impact has been far more profound for the average expat seeking to build a new life a foreign land. Here’s a little bit more about these two requirements.
If you have accounts in foreign bank accounts with balances that total $10,000 or more at any time during the previous year (emphasis added), then you must file an FBAR. It’s submitted to the U.S. Treasury Department annually via FinCEN Form 114.
With the requirements for residency in many Latin Tropic countries including maintaining a minimum amount in a local bank, it is important to keep track of your bank balances throughout the year to avoid potential penalties. The fine is $10,000 for each non-willful violation. If considered willful, penalties can be as high as the greater of $100,000 or 50 percent of the amount in the account for every year for every account you fail to report.
At this point in time, however, the IRS reserves the right to merely issue a warning. The goal is to compel compliance, not to levy punitive actions.
The FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) requires expats to report all foreign assets to the IRS on Form 8938 as part of their annual 1040 filing. The scope of FATCA is significantly larger than FBAR, as it includes such things as foreign pensions, foreign bank accounts, partnerships, and stock holdings.
These last two items are important as some countries require that a corporation/partnership be established in order to purchase real estate. Consequently such assets would have to be included on the Form 8398.
There are income thresholds that would trigger the FATCA requirements. Single taxpayers who have assets in excess of $300,000 at any point during the year or in excess of $200,000 by year’s end have to file; for married taxpayers, the limits are increased to $600,000 during the year or $400,000 at year’s end.
All sources of foreign income are included under FATCA. Since many foreign companies and financial institutions do not issue tax forms, such as w-2s and 1099s, it is important that you maintain good records of your finances to minimize potential issues when filing with the IRS.
Failure to file Form 8398 will result in a $10,000 penalty. After IRS notification, this amount can increase to $50,000. It’s also important to note that, while FATCA does include bank accounts, filing a Form 8938 does not relieve you of your need to file a FinCEN Form 114. Both forms are required, and the penalties are separate for each violation.
You Can Run But You Can’t Hide from the IRS
With over 50 countries now participating in FATCA, expats can expect increased scrutiny from the IRS on any foreign investments, employment, or property ownership. Although there has been continued criticism of these programs, more countries can be expected to sign on as participants.
Being prepared before making your move to the tropics is the best way to ensure that you will not run afoul of these tax situations. Doing your research, understanding your financial profile, and keeping solid records are important steps to take before setting foot in your new country.
Benjamin Franklin said it best when he pointed out that taxes were one of only two things of which we could be certain. You may not be able to avoid taxes, but with adequate preparation you can certainly limit the severity of the headache they cause. Don’t let your uncertainties prevent you from realizing your dream of living abroad.
I can’t remember a time when the U.S. political scene was in such a state of turmoil. These days you can’t talk politics on social media (or even with family over a holiday meal) without somebody getting worked up and going into an all-out rant.
During election season, there were plenty of people on both sides threatening that they were going to “leave the country if [fill in the blank] gets elected.” And apparently some thought pretty seriously about it, as Google reports that searches for the phrase “move to Canada” hit an all-time high in the days following Super Tuesday.
Well. It’s all over. The chips have fallen. Donald J. Trump has officially been inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. So now the question becomes…who’s really going?
How many people are actually leaving the U.S.?
Sure, they threaten. It happens every time there’s an election. But does anyone actually even follow through on their threat to expatriate merely because they’re unhappy about a change in the presidential administration?
The answer? Well, no one really knows.
That’s because, as concerned as the U.S. is with how many people are coming into the country, they’re actually surprisingly lax on tracking how many are leaving. In fact, among developed countries, the U.S. is almost the only one that doesn’t collect any data on its emigrants.
That’s right. The U.S. government has absolutely no idea how many of its citizens are living abroad. If you ask the State Department, they’ll tell you it’s somewhere between 3 million and 8 million. (Really narrows it down, right?)
But other sources indicate there are closer to 9 million non-military U.S. citizens living abroad. That’s more than double the 4 million estimated in 1999, and it’s increasing every year, as is the number of U.S. citizens renouncing their citizenship.
Where are they going?
The next question is, of the estimated 3 million U.S. citizens who could potentially become expats this year, to which countries are they emigrating?
What little data that does exist suggests that most U.S. expats move to locations physically close to the U.S., those whose residents speak English, countries that are political allies, and those that have a large number of immigrants to the U.S.
Not surprisingly, the largest number of U.S. expats live in Mexico, with some estimates putting that number as high as 1 million people. The countries in the Latin Tropics also rank high on the list. In fact, there’s practically no country outside of the Caribbean or American possessions where more than 1% of the population is U.S. citizens.
Why are they leaving?
Sure, there are people who actually do leave the U.S. based on nothing more than election results. A ton of folks moved down to the tropics after Obama was elected. They bought houses right next to people who left because they hated Bush, and guess what happened. They all got along swimmingly.
It’s not because the political systems in the Latin Tropics are any better. In fact, in many ways they’re way worse. Newly installed political leaders come in and clean house, all the way from cabinet leaders down to the guy who’d been reviewing your building permit request for a month already.
The entire government shuts down for weeks. When things do get up and running, it’s with all new people who have no idea what the hell’s going on. It’s a nightmare! Not to mention, corruption is rampant.
The biggest difference is that, while there’s plenty of political turmoil in the tropics, not much of it affects your average expat. Even the laws that do exist (like some really ridiculous traffic regulations) often aren’t enforced, because there simply aren’t enough resources available.
If not politics, then what?
That being said, politics is still very low on the list of reasons people move away from the U.S. So what are the top draws that entice so many U.S. citizens into living abroad?
This one dates back as far as the 19th century, when the increase of whalers and clipper ships led Americans to travel all across the globe for commercial reasons. Treaties with China, Japan, and Korea paved the way for North American traders to settle in those countries.
After the Cold War, the countries of Eastern and Central Europe and Central Asia represented new opportunities for U.S. business owners. With the U.S. dominating the world economy, there was also an increasing need for English as a Second Language (ESL) education in these emerging markets.
Technology and globalization have continued to fuel overseas emigration. Then the economic crisis of 2008 led even more U.S. citizens to look outside the borders for job opportunities or more affordable retirement. Overseas jobs have also become increasingly popular among new graduates facing a tough job market after college.
You can thank Cecil Rhodes for beginning this phenomenon when he created the Rhodes Scholarship in 1902 to foster cooperation between the U.S., Germany, and the British Empire by allowing students to study abroad. The trend caught on as other similar initiatives, like the Fulbright Program, were created to allow students to participate in cultural exchanges.
Today the number of college students studying abroad continues to increase. Not to mention, more and more students are realizing that experiencing life in another part of the world and learning to adapt is a valuable part of preparing to live and work in an increasingly global society. As a result, many are choosing to take a gap year and spend time overseas before resuming their studies.
Quality of Life
But the number one reason that most expats I meet choose to leave the U.S. is simply because of a desire to experience something new and to immerse themselves in another culture. For this trend you can thank the “Lost Generation” expats in Paris: Ernest Hemingway, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, and Gertrude Stein, to name a few.
Paris was the place to be in the 1920s. So that, as a result, was where they were. Other European cities like Amsterdam, Rome, Berlin, and Prague also grew in popularity among North Americans. Today, an increasing number of expats are choosing the Latin Tropics as their destination abroad, where they can enjoy a more laid-back lifestyle, often at a fraction of the cost.
U.S. citizens are moving all over the globe for no other reason than the fact that they’ve identified a place (or perhaps many places) that offer something they want to experience. It could be culture. It could be a slower pace of life. It could be a value system that more closely aligns with their priorities.
Whatever it is, they’re finding it elsewhere. And that trend is going to continue in the years to come. It doesn’t matter who’s sitting in the Oval Office.
What’s your motivation for setting your sights overseas?
If you’re planning on becoming an expat in Costa Rica, it would probably be a good idea to learn a little bit of Spanish before you go. It isn’t necessary to be fluent in the language, especially if you’re headed to a town that’s home to a lot of expats. But you need to know at least a few basic phrases to help you get around.
A few good ones to know would be “¿Dónde está el baño?” (Where’s the bathroom?); “¿Cuánto cuesta la papaya?” (How much does the papaya cost?); and “Necesito un medico.” (I need a doctor.). Beyond that, you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll start to catch on.
If you’re someone who considers yourself to have an excellent command of the Spanish language, you’ll have a bit of an advantage when you arrive. However, don’t assume there won’t still be a learning curve as you try to pick up on some of the local lingo.
The Costa Rican dialect is as laid back as the Costa Rican lifestyle. It’s full of slang and idioms that may not mean exactly what their literal translation might suggest. There are even a few words and phrases that are unique to Costa Rica and have no real Spanish translation.
Some are informal and mostly used by the younger generation. Others may be acceptable for formal conversation. Some could get you into a whole heap of trouble if you throw them around in the wrong situation.
Here are 15 words and phrases you need to understand to avoid looking awkward in your first social encounter with your new Tico friends and neighbors:
- Pura vida – If you’ve spent 5 minutes in Costa Rica, then you’ve definitely heard this phrase. But what does it mean? Literally translated as “pure life,” it’s the unofficial motto of Costa Rica. It’s often used as a greeting or just a general acknowledgement of anything that’s good, particularly in response to “Cómo estás?” (How are you?) ¡Pura vida! (Pure life!)
- Rojos and tejas – “Rojos” means “reds” and tejas are “tiles.” But they’re also often used to describe the Costa Rican currency, colones. A rojo is a red bill that’s worth 1,000 colones ($2 US), and a teja is 100 colones. On that note, “una teja” can actually mean 100 of anything. So if someone tells you to turn right after una teja, then go 100 meters (about a block).
- Harina – Speaking of currency, if someone asks you for harina when making a purchase, they’re not actually asking you to barter with what the word actually means, which is “flour.” Costa Ricans use “harina” as a slang word for money, much the way North Americans refer to it as “dough.”
- Deme un toque – Get this one wrong, and you could be in some trouble. While it’s literal meaning is “give me a touch,” someone who requests this of you is more likely asking you to “give me a second.”
- Soda – This is the word for the mom-and-pop style restaurants you’ll see all over Costa Rica. They’re small diners that serve up local cuisine. You can get a huge plate of meat, beans, and rice for not a lot of harina.
- Pipa – Here’s a word that has multiple meanings, so it’s important to know when you should and shouldn’t use it. It’s okay to request a pipa from the waiter at your local soda. He’ll bring you a coconut drink. Don’t ask the same of a shady vendor in a dark alley. To him it’s a hash pipe.
- Chunche – When your handyman asks you to hand him one of these and motions towards a hammer, you’ll assume that’s what it means. Not necessarily. He may use the same term again, this time pointing at a wrench. That’s because a chunche is basically just a “thingamajig.”
- Buena/mala nota – The literal translation of this phrase is “good/bad grade.” It’s most often used to describe someone’s performance or character. For example, you could exclaim “¡Que buena nota!” when the mariachi band finishes up their last set on the restaurant patio.
- Detrás del palo – If someone says they’re this, which literally means “behind the tree,” they mean that they’re unfamiliar with the topic or situation or that they don’t know what you’re talking about. Another way of saying this is “Miando fuera del tarro,” which literally translates as “taking a pee out of the can.”
- Que pega – This one literally translates to “what a stick,” and it’s used to refer to someone or something that’s really annoying.
- Mae – While this word doesn’t have an exact literal translation, it’s derived from another word that means “dummy.” But in Costa Rica it’s used as a nickname for your pal or buddy, sort of the way North Americans might use the word “dude.”
- Cabra – If your mae mentions he’s bringing his cabra to dinner, there’s no need to search for restaurants that allow livestock. Though its literal meaning is “goat,” “cabra” is a slang term Ticos use to refer to their girlfriends.
- Pura paja – Not feeling so pura vida today? There’s another term you might use when things aren’t going quite as well. “Paja” is actually the word for “straw,” but instead of “pure straw” using the term “pura paja” is actually how you say “bull$#!%.”
- Que torta – This phrase literally translates as “what a patty.” In general it’s used to describe someone who has royally screwed up something. It’s also the phrase used to refer to an unplanned pregnancy.
- Lava huevos – Someone described as this isn’t actually “washing the eggs,” as the literal translation would indicate. They’re probably “sucking up” to someone.
Now that you’re up-to-date on your Costa Rican lingo, there’s nothing else to keep you from heading on down and starting your expat journey!
The investment and securities industry can be a complicated thing for most people to understand. As a result, many depend on the services of a licensed broker or financial advisor to help them navigate the many options available for building wealth and preparing for retirement.
And, while most of these individuals are very knowledgeable and well-meaning professionals, they’re not necessarily the only (or even the best) solution for determining how to invest your dollars. But you won’t hear that from them.
Of course, your broker has your best interest at heart. But he also has some interests and limitations of his own. Ones he’s not likely to disclose to you. Here are five statements that, while true, probably won’t ever come up in your quarterly review.
1. “I’m a salesman, not a stock analyst.”
Your adviser probably sounds like he’s up-to-the-minute on market trends and the hottest new investment products. He may also provide colorful graphs and charts and use lots of financial jargon. But the fact is that selling investment products has no education or experience requirement. Candidates just have to pass a test, albeit a relatively difficult one.
That’s because, at the end of the day, the role of a financial advisor is essentially a sales job. The company your broker works for has experts who research individual stocks, mutual funds, and other financial tools. Any insights he offers to you he’s learned from reading his corporate literature, not analyzing the annual report of every company in the S&P 500.
2. “I have ulterior motives.”
Brokers are sometimes offered extra incentives for selling certain mutual funds or products. So, while he would never intentionally recommend something that’s a BAD investment, he could have his own selfish reason for suggesting one investment vehicle over another.
Not to mention, he may also have a quota to meet. Even if your portfolio is performing just fine, he could suggest that you buy into a different fund or company, since he only gets paid when you make a transaction.
These practices do happen, but that doesn’t mean they’re true of every broker or firm. It might be worth looking into how your advisor gets compensated.
3. “I’m biased towards domestic investments.”
Most advisors suggest putting anywhere from 10 to 25 percent of your portfolio in international investments. This recommendation reflects something that’s know as “home country bias.” People tend to assume that their home markets are less volatile and more likely to earn higher returns, when that isn’t necessarily the case.
While it’s true that international markets do fluctuate, they’re no less stable overall than the U.S. market. In fact, looking over a long range of time, the results have actually been quite similar.
Furthermore, while the U.S. once made up over half of the global market, that’s no longer true. So, if you want a portfolio that more closely resembles the global ratio, you’d end up with closer to 50% in foreign investments, leaving you better poised to shoulder both the political and economic risks.
4. “You should be thinking outside the box.”
Your broker has probably talked to you about the importance of diversifying your portfolio. He may have stressed the importance of having a mix of large- and small-cap or domestic and foreign funds.
He’s probably touched on any other business or personal property that factors into your net worth, such as your home. But outside of that, he’s probably never mentioned any product that he doesn’t offer.
When it comes to investing, stocks, bonds, and mutual funds are only part of the picture. You shouldn’t overlook the myriad of other options out there, such as real estate. These non-traditional ventures are often very profitable options, but they’re probably not on your advisor’s radar. Not even close.
5. “Your best investment option may be one I could never sell you.”
Not only will your advisor probably not mention any non-traditional investments, he might not even be able to help you with any that you suggest on your own. International real estate is a good example.
Buying land or a home overseas can be a fantastic investment, particularly if you’re able to hold on to it long-term. There are a number of areas in the Latin Tropics where real estate is getting ready to take off, due to infrastructure improvements or other development nearby. Plus there are many tax advantages to buying foreign real estate.
The problem is that your broker’s firm probably won’t allow him to assist you with the purchase. That’s not because it’s a bad or risky investment. It’s merely because it’s beyond their capacity. They simply don’t have the time or resources to research these kinds of investments for every client. So they’ll have to send you elsewhere.
However, for those who want to include international real estate in their financial portfolio, there are plenty of options available. It’s just a matter of finding a custodian who deals with these types of transactions and is better equipped to work with a more informed, entrepreneurial client.
Bottom line…there’s no need to fire your broker just yet. When you make money, he makes money. So, for personal and professional reasons, he wants to see you build as much wealth as possible. But you should definitely go into your next quarterly review with a more open and inquisitive mind.
He knows a lot of ways to get you a great return on investment. But only you can decide what’s truly the best strategy for your future.
If you’ve spent even five minutes on our site, then you know we’re pretty big fans of international real estate as an investment. It’s tangible, stable, and even pretty predictable if you’ve been doing this as long as we have. And — as is often said — they aren’t making any more of it.
If that finite supply is part of what makes real estate a great investment opportunity, then it plays an even bigger role when it comes to island property. There are only so many in the world. It’s part of what adds to their allure.
Due to the limited number of listings for island properties for sale, their demand (and consequently their price tag) is often quite high. Not to mention, buying and owning island property comes with its own very unique set of challenges.
So before you go in all Robinson Crusoe and start making offers on your own personal deserted island, here are a few tips to keep you from getting marooned.
1. Be realistic.
You may have delusions of grandeur of living in solitude in your own tropical paradise. Or maybe you’ve come up with the perfect plan to buy a raw tropical diamond in the rough and turn it into the next Roatan, Honduras. Just know this. Neither living on or developing an island is for the faint of heart.
Before you hop a boat from the mainland, ask yourself a few questions. Will I be OK with being a bit cut off from civilization? What happens if there’s an emergency? Do I really want to pump my own water?
Potential investors or developers should do the same. Think about these questions. How much will I need to better this land in order to turn a profit? Have I factored in the cost of transporting tons, meaning literally thousands of pounds, of building supplies from the mainland?
Too many people buy island property without taking these and other factors into account. Once they realize they were disillusioned about what it would demand, many end up turning right around and selling it or, worse, getting stuck with undesirable property they can’t get rid of.
2. Consider the ease of access, or lack thereof.
By its definition, island property is surrounded by water. This fact opens up a whole can of worms that you might not have ever thought about before if you haven’t lived on an island.
Not only is there the issue of the island’s distance from the mainland. There’s also the physical hurdle of getting people and supplies out of a boat and onto dry land. That’s not always as easy as it sounds. There has to be a shoreline somewhere that’s conducive to loading and unloading.
This becomes even more crucial if you’re planning to build. It’s one thing to imagine bringing your furniture and groceries ashore on an island. Now imagine unloading stacks of lumber or a backhoe. In most cases, it is possible. But the time and costs associated with building on an island can be many times more than what the same would cost on the mainland.
3. Know your rights.
In most places in the Latin Tropics, foreigners have the same rights as citizens when it comes to buying and owning real estate. However, there are sometimes caveats. And island property is one of the most common types restricted by local laws.
For example, in some countries islands can only be purchased as Rights of Possession (ROP) property. That means they’re actually owned by the government. You have the right to use and develop it as you wish (with a few limitations). You just don’t hold the title and, as a result, don’t pay taxes.
If that scares you, it shouldn’t. It’s a very common practice, and it’s often the only way to be able to possess some of the most amazing properties in the tropics. It’s also not that different from owning land in the U.S. (If you don’t agree with that statement, then just ask yourself what would happen to the land you own if you stopped paying your property taxes.)
Another thing to be aware of is that many countries also recognize adverse possession, which is where a trespasser can actually acquire ownership of property merely by occupying it (read: squatting). So, before you buy a property that you think is vacant, you might want to check it carefully for any signs of vagabonds.
4. Do your due diligence.
For these and other reasons, it’s never more important to diligently research a title than when it comes to buying island property. Disputes over land can and do arise. And — if you take nothing else from the advice I’m giving here — know that if any questions are going to arise concerning the ownership of a property, you’re going to want to address those BEFORE you purchase it.
Resolving title issues is a manageable hurdle that can be surmounted. Ending up having to plead your case in a foreign court and facing the potential of losing everything you’ve invested is a NIGHTMARE that you never want to have to deal with.
5. Work with a trusted team.
Buying island property is not easy. But, while the risks it presents are ones that can be managed, that’s no easy feat for someone who doesn’t specialize in international real estate transactions.
That’s why my best advice is to work with a team of trusted professionals who can help guide you through the process. A local realtor can help you schedule property viewings, compare listings, and complete written offers. An attorney who’s well-versed in real estate can help with researching the title and walking you through the buying process.
It’s important to thoroughly vet any of these professionals before you hire them. Get recommendations from other expats and investors. Meet with several experts and interview them before you tell anyone they’ve got the job.
With the right help and an objective approach, buying an island can be a lucrative investment or a tropical dream come true. Just be careful. Failure to follow these tips could leave you feeling like a castaway.
Quick! What are the first five adjectives that come to mind when I tell you to think about the Latin Tropics?
All done? What were they? I’m guessing most of them were probably pretty positive. Words like “breathtaking,” “eco-diverse,” and “relaxing.” And those all describe the region quite well.
But there’s a small chance there may have also been a few negative attributes that popped into your head. Things like “unfamiliar,” “expensive,” or “muggy.” And those can certainly be valid descriptions of certain parts of the area as well. However, many of them might not be quite as prevalent (or even accurate) as you might think.
Let’s take a minute to debunk some commonly held misconceptions about living in the Latin Tropics. This should help you banish those negative terms from your vocabulary in favor of some more positive impressions about this incredible region.
1. The climate is unbearably hot and humid.
A commonly held misconception about the Latin Tropics is that it’s unbearably hot and humid everywhere you go. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Beating the heat in the Latin Tropics is as simple as changing your altitude.
While it’s true that most coastal cities can get pretty warm, there are plenty of fantastic places to live in the inland mountains and valleys that are so mild that most homes don’t even require air conditioning. All you need to do is open a window and let in the tropical breeze.
2. Everything is really expensive.
If your only experience in the Latin Tropics was at a fancy resort or in a highly developed city that’s popular with expats and tourists, it’s easy to think why you might hold this belief. But when you live like a local, it’s actually a very affordable place to call home.
In fact, the low cost of living is a factor that attracts many people, retirees in particular, to the region in the first place. Housing and utilities are inexpensive. Fresh produce is dirt cheap. You can even splurge on the services of a domestic helper, like a maid or gardener, for a fraction of what you’d pay for the same services in the U.S.
3. I can’t own real estate in the Latin Tropics.
This is another fact that many would-be expats incorrectly assume. In most countries in Latin America, foreign buyers have the same rights as citizens. They can buy property outright and, in some cases, even obtain financing.
There are some exceptions, though, like beachfront property and land within a certain distance from national borders. If you decide to buy, you’ll also need to be aware of property laws governing issues like “squatters” and other things that aren’t a concern in the U.S.
4. I need to learn Spanish before I can move there.
While it’s a good idea to know at least a few key phrases before beginning your expat journey, being fluent in Spanish is hardly a requirement. Most cities that are popular with expats and tourists are very friendly to English speakers. You won’t have a hard time getting your questions answered.
Once you’re settled in, you can start focusing on broadening your vocabulary. There are also plenty of language schools, tutors, etc. who can help you learn the lingo after you arrive. Not to mention, there’s no better way to learn than being immersed in the culture day in and day out.
5. The Latin Tropics are “disconnected” from the rest of the world.
Yeah, I get it. Quaint fishing villages and ethereal cloud forests don’t exactly scream “high-speed connectivity,” but you might be surprised by how far this region has come in recent years when it comes to things like Internet access and cellular coverage.
Many countries have seen government initiatives targeted at improving infrastructure and Internet connectivity. Most mid- to large-sized cities have cafes and other businesses that boast free wi-fi. And with all the technology available these days, it’s never been easier to keep in touch.
6. Locals don’t care for North Americans.
This could be the most ludicrous assumption that North Americans make about the people of the Latin Tropics. They’re an incredibly welcoming culture, eager to make new friends and share stories.
As long as you’re open to new people and ideas, you’ll fit right in with the locals in the Latin Tropics. Come across as an arrogant gringo, on the other hand, and they likely won’t give you the time of day.
7. It’s not safe there.
Unfortunately, the Latin Tropics has earned itself a bit of a reputation as a haven for crime and corruption. The reality, though, is that it’s cleaned itself up quite well and today is no less safe than your average North American city.
What crime that does exist is mostly drug- or gang-related and generally only affects those involved in those activities. The rest is mostly minor offenses like petty theft. In general, just stay away from the bad parts of town after dark, lock your doors, and don’t leave valuables lying around to tempt would-be thieves.
8. The Latin Tropics are not open for business.
Many people steer clear of moving to the Latin tropics because they’re afraid they couldn’t get a viable business up and running in order to sustain their livelihood. This is yet another false assumption. For the entrepreneurial expat, there are plenty of options for making money.
As more and more people move to the region from all over the globe, there’s a growing need for more businesses catering to expats and tourists. Everything from boutique hotels to dry cleaners. Investing in real estate is another popular option, as the savvy buyer can often score a great deal on land or homes.
Whether you’re worried about making ends meet, swatting at mosquitoes, or learning how to order a sandwich the way you want it, there’s no reason to let those fears or misconceptions keep you from realizing your dream of living in the Latin Tropics.
Plan a trip down to check things out for yourself. Get to know some locals. Have them show you where they buy their groceries. Ask them where it is and isn’t safe to go at night. Then pop into an Internet cafe to email your family and friends back home. Tell them to start getting excited about coming to visit you in your new home.
Expats thinking outside the box means finding destinations that can offer a combination of adventure and the challenge of living in a different environment. The Latin Tropics have a number of locations that can offer both an adventurous lifestyle and the opportunity to step outside your comfort zone.
The list below contains locations that range from rustic, provincial places, where you can immerse yourself in a new culture, to regions where high adrenaline activities are the theme of the day. These unique spots are not just for visiting but, for those who dare to try something different, places where even the most adventurous expats can find long-term fulfillment.
Locales for Expats Thinking Outside the Box
The list below is by no means exhaustive. However, these destinations are great examples of places where you can find more than just your run-of-the-mill expat hotspot.
Boca Chica Island, Panama
For those looking to escape from the 24/2/7/365 rush of modern urban communities, Boca Chica, Panama is the perfect getaway. This 400-acre private island, just a mile off the Panamanian coast and six miles from the town of the same name, combines natural beauty, world-class sport fishing, snorkeling and diving, and tremendous investment potential.
Boca Chica’s close proximity to Enrique Malek International Airport in David makes it easy to access this lush tropical oasis. Once experienced, it is easy to see that Boca Chica is a desirable place for relocation.
Adrenaline junkies who are looking for a place that combines high energy sports with the ambiance of a small tropical fishing village will find that rare blend in Crucita, Ecuador. This beachside town has become known as a premier destination for paragliding and hang gliding with stretches of open beaches, constant Pacific breezes, and a number of businesses that cater to “gliders.”
Given the small population (12,000) and rustic beach lifestyle, Crucita may be the ideal spot for adventurers who are looking for the magic of that “endless summer” without the tourist-centric atmosphere that many beach towns have. More than just a place to visit and play, Crucita has potential for investment while maintaining the irresistible draw of being a location where high-flyers can spread their wings.
Santa Teresa/Mal Pais, Costa Rica
Nestled on the southern tip of Costa Rica’s Nicoya peninsula, Santa Teresa (and the surrounding region of Mal Pais) has become a haven for those expats seeking a life less cluttered. The region around Santa Teresa has become a go-to spot for surfers from all over the world seeking to find that perfect wave without the over-development that marks so many beach communities in the region. Surf camps and shops are plentiful; there are even two surf camps – Chica Surf Adventures and Pura Vida Adventures – that are for women only.
The perfect balance to the high-energy world of surfing, the region has also become home to a growing number of yoga retreats and alternative health spas. Close proximity to the first national park in Costa Rica, Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Reserve and Curu Wildlife Refuge, provides special opportunities to experience a wealth of biodiversity.
Needless to say, this symbiotic merging of meditation, natural wonders, and adrenaline sports has made the Mal Pais region a popular place to visit and play. While there is an increasing push to develop more contemporary living in Santa Teresa, it is still possible to live there and immerse yourself in the eclectic ambiance of rustic small villages where the spirit of “pura vida” remains alive and well.
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Nature lovers could ask for no better place to live than the Galapagos Islands, off the coast of Ecuador. While the Galapagos archipelago is made up of 19 islands, only five are inhabited: Baltra, Floreana, Isabela, San Cristobal, and Santa Cruz. The largest city, Puerto Ayora, home to about 10,000 people, is located on Santa Cruz.
Long admired as one of the premier destinations for wildlife viewing, this group of islands is home to various types of plants and animals found nowhere else on Earth. The few villages and towns scattered throughout the archipelago are rustic settlements that are reminiscent of an earlier, less complicated time.
Living in a location that is unsullied by modern construction, surrounded by a unique and biodiverse environment, seeped in historical relevance, is what a move to the Galapagos Islands promises. More than just a place to visit, these islands can be a retreat from the modern world like no other place on Earth.
Lake Atitlán, Guatemala
Labeled by such figures as Aldous Huxley and Alexander Von as being the most beautiful lake in the world, the highlands area of Lake Atitlán, Guatemala has become a favorite for expats looking for a unique destination off the beaten path. Located in the Sierra Madre de Chiapas mountain range, the Lake Atitlán area has a cooler, less tropical climate that may appeal to expats who find the heat along the coast less inviting.
The nine villages that surround the lake offer both a rustic lifestyle and a chance to become immersed in the local Mayan culture like nowhere else in the region. Being able to see and experience Mayan culture, not just as a tourist presentation, but as a way of daily life, is a profound experience that cannot be had in many places in the world.
Less developed than other parts of Guatemala, this region holds great investment potential for those who are intrepid enough to create their own version of a Latin Tropics escape. Balancing growth while maintaining the special cultural vibe of the region is a focus of the area’s residents, and it shows.
Sanctuary Belize, Belize
Nestled between Mexico and Guatemala, the tiny country of Belize melds a unique blend of eco-lifestyles, adventures on land and sea, and Mayan ruins. Formally known as British Honduras, Belize is unique in that it is the only Latin Tropic country where English is the official language.
Belize offers a diverse selection of things to see, do and experience. Numerous Mayan ruins await those who wish to see the remnants of this amazing culture up close and personal. For those looking for aquatic adventures, the Belize Barrier Reef is the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere and second-largest in the world behind Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
Sanctuary Belize has become a unique experiment combining eco-tourism and a “green” lifestyle on its 14,000 acre location. Having the opportunity to live green in the tropics while enjoying the natural beauty of Belize is certainly an exciting option for expats looking for something more than just an oceanfront existence.
Dare to Think Outside the Box
One of the best parts of the expat experience is discovering new vistas and new ways of living that can take you beyond the life you had before. Visiting these locations (or others that peak your interest) can be the first step to leaving your comfort zone to find your own road less traveled.
The number of millennials embracing expat living is increasing every year. Not surprisingly, the Latin Tropics have become a top destination for these young Americans seeking a path less traveled beyond the borders of the U.S.
Unlike retirees, or older expats, millennials often have to remain more focused on how to earn a living while exploring their new country. Whether the stay is just for a year or two, or a more permanent relocation, finding a job that can finance the tropical dream can be a challenging part of the expat experience.
Know the Rules
Working in a foreign country is not just a matter of getting hired. Many countries have rules and regulations governing employment for those who are not citizens or residents of the country. This may be a factor in the types of employment that millennials looking to work abroad can apply for.
While researching job opportunities, it is important to also look into any limitations that may exist for prospective foreign workers. The information for work permits, residency requirements, and other matters concerning employment are easily found on the internet.
What Jobs Are Most Available for Millennials Embracing Expat Living?
The types of jobs best suited, and most easily obtained, for millennials living abroad are different than those available to college graduates in the United States. Whether looking for something to pay the bills for a year or two, or as a transition to becoming a permanent resident, being able to look at some non-traditional roles can open up opportunities that you may not have considered before. Here are a few.
As the interest in life outside of the U.S. continues to expand, freelance writers and photographers are becoming more in demand. The plus side is that you are your own boss in terms of what projects you work on and when. The obvious downside is that there is no guarantee of a regular income.
If you have language skills, finding work as a translator may be a way to fund your expat experience. This type of work can be found in both public and private settings.
Many local schools look for individuals who can teach basic English to their students. On the other side of the language coin, international schools are seeking native English speakers to teach Spanish to new arrivals to their Central and South American homes.
For millennials who want to immerse themselves in the local culture while sharing their knowledge and experience, working in the growing tourism industry is another possibility. Whether arranging tours, making reservations, or actually working as a guide, the opportunities and potential for income is certainly growing.
For some millennials, working to better the lives of those in need in a foreign setting is the ideal expat position. While the pay is often minimal, many organizations often trade room and board in exchange for the work you would do. Though not for everyone, positions of this sort can offer life changing experiences that cannot be measured in dollars and cents.
Employment with a U.S. Company
There are a limited number of openings abroad for employees of companies based in the U.S. Generally, these positions require some specific skill or training that local residents may not have. As globalization continues, however, the number of positions for those interested in living and working abroad can be expected to increase as well.
Real Estate: The Unexpected Option
One type of work that may not immediately come to mind is the field of real estate. Many older expats looking to rent or purchase property in the Latin Tropics often find that they’re more comfortable dealing with someone who comes from their same background or frame of reference.
Expats know the kinds of areas and properties that might appeal to other expats like themselves. They’re also familiar with the way real estate transactions work in both the U.S. and their new country and can better explain the ins and outs to newcomers.
As a result, many local realty companies actively seek individuals who are excited about sharing the expat experience and who can spread that excitement to others considering the same choice. These positions can involve rentals, buying and selling, or even managing properties for absentee owners.
Where Do You Look for Expat Jobs?
After identifying the kinds of jobs that may translate well to the expat lifestyle, the next step is to discover where these positions can be found. Personal connections, such as friends and family are good places to start your search.
Alumni associations, fraternities and sororities, or professional organizations (if you belong to one) may provide unexpected connections beyond the U.S. borders. Even if none of these options is available, there is still one other trusty tool you can use for job hunting: the Internet.
A simple search for terms such as “international jobs” or “telecommuting” or “teaching English abroad” can yield a great deal of information about positions that are available and how to apply for them. Even a search for U.S. companies that are located in your chosen destination could reveal a potential source of opportunity.
Social media is another great place to get ideas. There is an ever increasing number of groups on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram dedicated to living and working abroad.
What Is the First Step in Embracing Expat Living?
But before you start sending out resumes, it’s important to make sure you’ve pinned down a location where you’ll be happy and fulfilled, whether for a few years or forever. Set aside some time to visit the areas you’re considering. Get a feel for the culture and the pace of life. And don’t forget to check out the job boards and see what’s posted!
Are you ready to be an expat? There are a lot of factors that should go into making such a life-changing decision. Taking an objective look at several important areas is a great way to test your expat readiness.
While there are elements that are unique to each person, certain general characteristics apply to almost everyone who’s able to thrive in the Latin Tropics. Answering true or false to a number of simple questions can provide a window into whether the expat lifestyle is something that you should pursue.
I’m Ready to Be an Expat: True or False
Below is a series of statements that address some of the factors that could impact your decision to move abroad. Read each one, and be truthful about your response. If you can agree to each of these claims, there is a good chance you would thrive in the Latin Tropics.
I Have Visited My Destination City/Country Several Times.
There is no more important step in the process of moving abroad than actually experiencing the country firsthand. By getting a good grasp on what life might be like before taking the plunge, you can avoid ending up with expat regret.
I Have Made a Budget for Living Abroad.
Having a realistic understanding of your own financial situation and what your requirements are to maintain the lifestyle you desire is particularly important as an expat. This should also include a “slush fund” to cover unexpected or increased costs.
I Have a Plan to Earn/Make Money in My New Home.
Unless you’re independently wealthy, you also need a plan for how you’re going to keep income flowing in. This could be from savings, investments, social security or pensions, or some kind of work or employment. Regardless of the source, this is something that should be in place well before you start packing your bags.
I Have a Place to Live.
It may seem obvious, but making certain that you have a place to live – whether rented, owned, or built – is crucial to preparing for your move overseas. A great way to deal with this is to research properties available, visit prospective locations, and meet with local agents who can answer questions about properties, transactions, and the overall potential of areas you’re considering.
I Am Comfortable Living in a Place Where English Is Not the Primary Language.
For those whose experience in foreign living has been exclusively at resorts that cater to North American tourists, discovering that daily life is not conducted in English can be a culture shock and a difficult hurdle to overcome. For some, learning to live life in another language is a welcome challenge. For others, it could be too much to handle.
I Don’t Mind Things Moving at a More Casual Pace.
Life in the Latin Tropics moves a bit more slowly than most North Americans are used to. Mañana, “tomorrow,” may actually mean next week. Next week might mean next month. Accepting that certain things, such as appointments with repair people, deliveries, etc. may not happen in the same time frame as in the U.S., can reduce your stress level and allow you to enjoy living life less frenetically.
My Friends/Family Support My Decision.
While the decision to move abroad is ultimately a personal one, having the knowledge that friends and family support your decision makes for a much easier transition to becoming an expat. Keeping positive lines of communication open can make the entire experience a joyous journey for all involved.
I Do Have a Fall-Back Plan.
Although your intention may be to make your move permanent, life sometimes intervenes. Family emergencies, financial issues, health problems, and similar unexpected occurrences may require a return back to the States. Having a safety net in place – even if it’s never used – can bring much-needed peace of mind during an uncertain time.
The Flip Side
If you answered “true” to the above statements, then congrats! You’re well on your way to making your dream a reality. But before you do, here are a few statements where your agreement could mean that becoming an expat might not be the best choice for you at this time.
I Want to Get Away from a Bad Relationship.
There is probably no worse reason to become an expat than to escape a failed relationship. While giving yourself some space may be a great short-term fix, you will soon discover that the feelings you sought to escape have travelled with you and could make adjusting to your new home very difficult. Try taking a vacation instead.
I Hate the Government and Want to Leave.
Many people threaten to move out of the country if so-and-so gets elected or if such-and-such bill gets passed. It’s understandable. We all get frustrated. But the truth is that there’s no utopia. If government policies and politicians frustrate you in the U.S., they will in your new country as well. While it’s true that Third World governments generally do less to affect your daily life and choices, there’s an incredible amount of bureaucracy and corruption.
I Want Life to Be Just Like It Was Back Home.
Simply put, this is an impossible dream. Life in the Latin Tropics is far different than life in the U.S. From the food, to shopping, to infrastructure, to the weather, you cannot hope to replicate the life you are leaving in the U.S. It will never happen.
My Culture Is Better Than Any Other.
If you are not willing to immerse yourself in a new culture and already have a preconceived notion that your way is superior, living abroad is not for you. People in the Latin Tropics are extremely welcoming to foreigners, but they don’t have a thing for those who arrogantly think their own ways are best.
Answering the Question About Your Expat Readiness
In taking this quiz, you probably have a better idea as to whether you are ready to begin your expat journey. Even if you couldn’t quite answer affirmatively to every statement, you should have a better idea of how to prepare for a life changing adventure that can lead you to your tropical paradise.
There are surprising expat expenses whose prices are significantly higher abroad than “at home.” Identifying these items beforehand can help potential expats, particularly those who are living on a fixed income, to better prepare for these higher ticket items.
On the flip side, there are some things whose costs are much less than you might expect. Comparing these pluses and minuses can be a great way to plan a long-term budget for your life in paradise.
Surprising Expat Expenses-The Top 6 Items
The list below contains some of the most surprising expat expenses. While no means exhaustive, this group provides a good example of the kinds of things that expats should keep in mind as they make the transition to life in the tropics.
Transportation: Buying Or Shipping A Vehicle
One of the most expensive items that may surprise expats is the cost of purchasing a new vehicle in the Latin Tropics. It is not uncommon to find prices that are as much as 25% higher than you would pay for the same vehicle in the U.S.
An additional issue with vehicle purchasing is that financing probably will not be an option. This translates into having to pay cash which can certainly impact a budget if someone was expecting a monthly payment instead.
Even shipping a vehicle can be a pricey option. The cost of getting the vehicle to the port that it will ship from, the price of shipping, duty and import fees and taxes charged by your new country can easily total several thousand dollars.
Repairs To Vehicles
Getting a vehicle repaired in the tropics is another surprising expat expense. While the costs of labor are usually cheaper, getting the parts necessary to make the repairs can be significantly higher
The major reason for this is the fact that many parts have to be imported into the country since there are very few “after market” suppliers in the tropics. Ordering parts from a state-side distributor means paying to have them shipped and, depending on the price, possibly paying duty on them as well.
In the tropics, transaction fees can be a surprising expat expense when buying property. While there are few, if any, restrictions to foreigners actually owning property throughout the Latin Tropics, understanding the transaction fee structure can be confusing and, in some cases, add a cost that you may not have expected.
The fee structure varies from country to country and needs to be checked before signing any agreements. Even the tax on property can vary; in Panama, for example, the transfer tax is a flat 2%. However, the basis can be either the purchase price or the cadastral value, whichever is greater. This latter item is an administrative value used by local authorities for fiscal purposes, such as taxes.
Higher End Consumer Goods
One major expense for expats involves higher end consumer goods like appliances or electronics. Not only are “brand name” products harder to come by, the prices that one will pay for them could be several times higher than one would pay in the states.
Paying for electricity, internet (if available), cable, cellular service, water/sewer and related items are other surprising expat expenses. Once you move beyond basic service, costs can double or even triple. Additionally, if repairs should be needed, you can be charged for those as well.
Traveling Home Or In-Country
What makes this category a surprise is the volatility of airline fares and fuel. The recent spike in oil prices has pushed gasoline (and jet fuel) higher; yet, as recent history demonstrates, these prices can also drop just as rapidly. Trying to plan and budget for any traveling could be a more expensive proposition than you had previously thought.
There Is An Upside
There are also some pleasant surprising expat expenses that are less expensive that the counterparts stateside.
Fresh Fruits And Vegetables
With a large number of farmer’s markets, roadside stands selling fruits and vegetables, and a good variety in brick-and-mortar stores, the prices for fresh produce are much less that you might imagine. In addition, the selection is always changing as various crops go in and out of season. For those looking for a healthier lifestyle, having access to fresh products at good prices is a welcome benefit.
Domestic, Landscaping, and Gardening Help
Finding a housekeeper, a gardener or someone to take care of the landscaping on the property is usually an inexpensive proposition. These workers are more affordable and more flexible than their U.S. equivalents.
Finding The Balance
Ultimately, each expat has to weigh the pluses and minuses of the decision to move abroad. Are the higher costs of some items offset by having the opportunity to live in a tropical paradise? For most, however, even being caught off guard by surprising expat expenses would not alter the decision to enjoy life in the Latin Tropics.
The country of Ecuador has many cultural and natural features that make it an attractive location for those seeking an alternative to more traditional tropic destinations. You may already know a few.
For example, this increasingly popular expat haven is known for its biodiversity, its affordability, and its rich culture. It also enjoys a sense of familiarity due to the established expat population.
However, as you continue to explore and get to know this unique expat hub, you may discover a few facts that will surprise you. Here are a few that make it stand out from the rest.
1. It’s the world’s most “far out” place.
Ecuador is actually closer to outer space than any other country on Earth. The reason? Mt. Chimborazo (Ecuador’s highest peak) is located on the equatorial bulge.
As a result, the summit of this mountain is the farthest point on the entire planet from the Earth’s core. Put another way, it is the point on Earth closest to space.
2. The Darwin Award goes to…
Ecuador is home to the Galapagos Islands, which were the location and inspiration of Charles Darwin’s research. Ecuador is viewed as one of 17 “megadiverse” countries on the planet and is widely considered as the most biodiverse country, per square kilometer, anywhere.
3. Even its name is special.
The name “Ecuador” itself is unique. While it is well known that the equator runs through the country, a lesser known fact is that Ecuador is the only country on Earth named after a geographical feature. The formal name of the country is República del Ecuador, the “country of the Equator.”
4. It offers a lot of bang for your literal buck.
Since 2000, Ecuador has used the U.S. dollar as its national currency. As a potential expat or investor, this means not having to deal with currency conversion rates and international fees, both in your daily life as well as in commercial transactions.
Being able to purchase real estate using U.S. dollars makes buying and investing both attractive and ultimately more affordable than in other locations. The fact that there are a growing number of properties on the market makes for a wide variety of options to choose from.
5. Yes, we have bananas…lots of them!
The singing of the old novelty song, “Yes, we have no bananas” (from 1922) would be woefully out of place in Ecuador. This country is actually the world’s largest exporter of the popular yellow fruit, shipping an average of 43 trillion of them annually. This translates to roughly 1/3 of all bananas exported worldwide.
6. You can be in both worlds at the same time.
One of Ecuador’s top tourist attractions is Ciudad Mitad del Mundo (literally “City of the Middle of the World”) where one can stand with one foot in the Northern Hemisphere and the other in the Southern Hemisphere.
Thanks to more modern technology, scientists have discovered that the true equatorial line is some 240 meters north of the popular monument and marker. However, the historic landmark is considered close enough for the many tourists who visit this location each year.
7. Nature has its own rights!
In 2008, Ecuador took an unprecedented step in declaring that nature had constitutional rights. Stating that it had the “right to exist, persist….and regenerate its vital cycles,” the Ecuadorian government declared that nature should not be treated as property.
This singular acknowledgement is, perhaps, one of the most forward-thinking statements about the environment you’ll find anywhere.
8. We’re the ones who really started the trend.
The familiar white straw and black hatband of the “Panama hat” has become a ubiquitous fixture throughout the Latin Tropics. Yet the many visitors to the region who purchase one of these signature hats might be surprised to discover that they didn’t actually get their start in Panama.
Originally from the coast of Ecuador, near the town of Cuenca, these hats were made for the workers who constructed the Panama Canal. Later, this headgear became a symbol of largesse of wealthy tourists who could afford to sail through the Canal. Today they’re still a popular souvenir choice of visitors to the region.
9. Expats are more than welcome.
It may come as a surprise that Ecuador is gaining popularity among expats as a preferred tropical destination. According to the annual survey done by InterNations.org, Ecuador has ranked as the number 1 choice among expats for the last two years.
From personal finance, quality of life, cost of living, and a number of other reasons, Ecuador has been consistently given the highest rating, rising above even other longtime favorite destinations in the Latin Tropics.
Discover Other Special Things About Ecuador
Perhaps the best way to discover what is special about Ecuador is to visit and explore it firsthand. You may just find that Ecuador is the unique tropical destination you’ve been looking for.